AIMS education author Paul Bennett is quoted in a CBC story about teacher misconduct. The Marketplace report reveals that the disciplinary process is inefficient and often hidden from the public. Read the full story on the CBC Marketplace website.
Marketplace analyzed the [Ontario College of Teachers]’s cases [of alleged teacher misconduct] from the past two years — more than 150 incidents — and found the average time it took to reach a decision was three years and 11 months.
The college says that timelines have improved and that the majority of cases are handled within three years: less than one year for most investigations and up to two years for most incidents once they’re referred to a disciplinary panel.
However, the college also wrote in a statement: “We acknowledge that some matters take longer than the norm to resolve due to their complexity.”
It’s not only a long time for students and parents looking for justice, but also for teachers, who may wait years to vindicate themselves from career-shattering accusations.
“That’s a long time to have a cloud over your head,” says Paul Bennett, a former principal who now researches teacher discipline at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, where he is an adjunct professor.
Across most of Canada, it’s not just timelines that are hidden from public scrutiny; it’s any evidence that misconduct took place at all.
“We know that there are more incidents going on than are publicly reported and we have very good evidence that many of these cases are buried,” says Bennett.
“If you raise a complaint or you register a concern about a teacher, you’re likely to be tied up in knots. You’re told that it’s under protection of privacy and there’s no public disclosure allowed and that you’re violating the rights of the teachers.
“We should be able to find information about whether teachers have had any current or past indiscretions, whether they’ve been found guilty of any offences and what steps have been taken to try to remediate those,” he says.
“We also need to know if there are teachers teaching in the system who shouldn’t be, and [if they] should be removed from teaching positions or … given much more stringent disciplinary measures.
“Right now, teachers are better protected than students.”